The “mindful traveler” is someone who travels into another country or culture with unbiased motives and is completely open-minded when it comes to learning the new culture. They become “mindful” when they accept the new changes and differences with open arms, no judgment and start to use the values as if they had always known them. The new values start to become comfortable and part of everyday life. The “carefree drifter” is someone who travels into another country without seizing new opportunities and experiences with an open mind. They tend to be afraid of trying new things, stay closed off throughout the entire experience and usually end up regretting their time in another country. The “mass tourist” is someone who travels into another country without having learned anything about the culture of where they are traveling. They tend to only go on the labeled roads and more popular places instead of expanding their horizons and engaging in the cultural values of where they are staying. Before I arrived in Ireland, I would say that I was in the “mass tourist” mindset. I was more worried about what to pack and what apps to download to my phone instead of learning about the country. After I arrived in Ireland, I felt like I was stuck somewhere in between “I need to see and experience everything right NOW” and “I will be here for four months and will have time to explore everything.” Considering what I just read in Becoming World Wise, I think I was in between the carefree drifter and the mindful traveler. I would walk around Cork and it never sank in that this would be my “home away from home” for four months until I realized that I should start memorizing directions around the city so I could stop asking for directions and maybe start giving them. After five full weeks, I would like to think that I am now a “mindful traveler.” Surprisingly, I have given someone directions to a specific spot and I ran into them a few days later and they said that they did not get lost!
These concepts relate to our working definition of the “global community” because, as students studying abroad, we need to broaden our horizons and experience life living in another country. Learning a new culture is difficult, especially when you are forced to leave your comfort zone to achieve the characteristics of the “mindful traveler.” Although we are redefining ourselves and meshing with the new qualities of the cultures, it can be hard to let go of what we are familiar with, but once we do let go, we are capable of taking in new opportunities everyday. I think the definition of a “global community” changes every time we familiarize ourselves with a new culture. This being said, the definition is ever changing.
On page 92 in Becoming World Wise, Slimbach says “Unfortunately, most modern travelers carry a reputation for being outgoing but insular, largely unreceptive to sources of value and virtue outside themselves and their own culture traditions.” This quote describes how the “mindful traveler” should NOT be. The second that the traveler becomes unreceptive to their surroundings is the second that the traveler can give off a “arrogant” vibe. Travelers, in my opinion, should enter into a new culture in a vulnerable state so they can learn as much as they can until they are more familiarized with the knowledge.
A challenge that exists to inhibit “mindful traveling” are if you are in a small group of people. Sometimes you may tend to cling to this group and not branch out to meet locals or try new things. Another challenge may be checking in with friends from home or family members too frequently. This can inhibit social experiences as well as cause significant home-sickness and anxiety.